“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” ~ 1 John 2:22-23
Explanation of the Text: In the previous verses, John indicates that he writes to those who know the truth and urges them to remain firm against the antichrists. The antichrists are false teachers who lie, while those who remain in the truth separate themselves from the falseness of lies that are proclaimed. In John’s connecting words here stand some unmistakable assertions:
- Truth is found in those who proclaim Christ, while lies are found in those who deny Christ.
- The antichrists deny both Father and Son, thus they are liars.
- God and Christ cannot be separated. To deny one is to deny both and to profess one is to profess both.
John asserts in verse 21 that he writes because those who are reading his writing know the truth. As a result of knowing the truth, there are no lies, because truth and falsehood cannot coexist. But here in this text he connects the lies with his previous mention of the antichrists in verse 18. These antichrists were the same ones who appeared to be part of the church body but in actually were revealed to not be part of it, thus they left (verse 19). Thus in opposition to the truth are known by denying The Truth.
Not only does John identify the falseness of such a denial of Christ, but he also brings to us a remarkable idea. One cannot deny Christ and have access to the Father. Likewise, to confess Christ is to confess God. In fact, I can think of no better summation than the words, “Those who claim they have a Father but exclude the Son have neither the Father nor the Son. Consequently, when Jesus is acknowledged as the Son and as the eternal Christ, the Father has also truly been lifted up, known and honored, confessed and possessed” (1).
Examination & Application of the Text: Throughout John’s epistles, he outlines tests of a person’s authenticity of their faith. This is not a mere checklist of do’s and dont’s in the Christian lifestyle. Likewise, it is not meant to be something to carry around for us as believers to evaluate others and compare ourselves to them. John’s epistles are written, similar to that of James, in such a way that compel a person to evaluate themselves in the mirror of God’s Word, in the full light of God. Thus, we are revealed as we truly are and can know the assurance of our salvation (1 John 5:13).
In this particular text, John remarks that true believers confess both God the Son and God the Father. But after reading even these first two chapters of 1 John, it should be clear that John’s concept of confession is not merely by word, but by actions. That is, to confess Christ is to demonstrate Him through one’s lifestyle. In this way, not only is Christ confessed, but God the Father is made known to those around us, honored by it, and ultimately glorified.
As we delve into the significance of thus, it becomes important to recognize the connection between action and truth. Our lives must be lived in such a way that they match that which claim to be true. If our lifestyle does not match our word style, we deny the truth. In the context of this passage in 1 John 2:18-27 there also comes another realization. To recognize the false teaching of others, we must be living in the truth ourselves. If we are not living in light of the truth, then it stands to reason we are susceptible to fall to the untruths. Part of a firm foundation comes not only in knowing the truth, but by walking in the truth….that is to say, by putting it into practice.
(1) Glenn W. Barker, 1,2, 3 John, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 326.